Regular Session of Prefectural Assembly in June

 The prefectural assembly’s regular session will open tomorrow. We, the administrative leadership, will propose the supplementary budget in the amount of 38.05 billion yen, which is the second-largest in history, as well as ordinances which relate to tourism, safety and security (for the residents of Tottori), and so on.
 In the national political arena, discussions for economic measures are making significant progress. In response to the development, we will try to reflect the effects in the prefecture as soon as possible.

Meeting of Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association

 Yesterday and the day before, the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association held a meeting in Tottori Prefecture. I feel we had a productive exchange of ideas on such issues as the financial burden on local governments for national public works projects, the future management of the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association, and so on. We seized this opportunity to show Governor Hashimoto of Osaka Prefecture and Governor Nisaka of Wakayama Prefecture around the Tottori Sand Dune and Sakaiminato City. This tour was broadcast in the Kansai Region (a region in western Japan including Kyoto and Osaka), so I hope it contributed to promoting tourism in Tottori Prefecture.

Global Geopark Network

 A meeting was held on the Geopark issue and I had a discussion with Governor Yamada of Kyoto Prefecture, Vice Governor Ioroi of Hyogo Prefecture, Mr. Mitamura, the chairman of the special committee of the San’in Geopark Promotion Council (as tentatively translated) and Mr. Nishida, the director of the Tottori learning center of the Open University of Japan. Now with the deadline for the application set on June 19, the preparation will probably move on to the final wording adjustment. We will make coordinated efforts this year to assure the steps toward the registration of (the San’in Coast as a part of) the Global Geopark Network.

DBS Cruise Ferry

 We received word that DBS Cruise Ferry will convoke its board of directors meeting today at 10 a.m. in Busan, South Korea in order to make a decision as a company. I hear that they will set the formal launching schedule at this meeting. I expect to receive the official notification in writing (from DBS’ side) today or tomorrow.
 The schedule for the full-scale launching has finally started to become clear. Yesterday I showed the governors of Osaka and Wakayama Prefectures around the quay where the ship of DBS Cruise Ferry will dock, and the CIQ (customs, immigration, and quarantine) terminal. They said that the ship service has a great deal of potential for the Kansai Region. We need to promote our marketing efforts further.
 We will hold a briefing session about the ship service on June 17 and 18 in Okayama and Hiroshima, and on June 22 in Osaka.

Measures to Support Child Rearing

 The total fertility rate for the year 2008 was announced. The national rate was 1.37 and that of Tottori Prefecture was 1.43, higher than the national figure. Our countermeasures against the falling birthrate may have been successful to a certain degree. But the total fertility rate of our prefecture decreased to 1.43 compared with 1.47 of last year. The recent downward trend of the rate is of concern to me.
 I told the relevant divisions that it’s necessary to conduct a questionnaire survey to parents who are raising children and relevant parties as soon as possible in order to get some hints as to what sort of measures are required, especially for the establishment of the Child Rearing Kingdom Tottori.
 We have just started drawing up “the Future Plan for Tottori’s Children (as tentatively translated).” We will need to collaborate with municipalities in order to fortify the child rearing kingdom. As part of the measure, we will launch the mutual child support services project of the childcare passport (a kind of service ticket for discounts and so on) with Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures. There are thousands of shops and stores in Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures in total. Tottori Prefecture has a collaboration agreement individually with each shop and we are seeking partner shops for the mutual application. It will be a high potential to attract customers from the opposite side (Osaka and Hyogo) and we will try to think up the ways of using the passport that will contribute to the promotion of mutual exchange and support. We already have this kind of mutual application in place with Shimane Prefecture. Since we are also willing to collaborate with Okayama Prefecture, we will make active arrangements with the parties (in Okayama).

Schedule, etc.

 Today we will execute the intermediate and mountainous area watch-over agreement with JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives). This weekend, “the Mirai Walk (future walk)” will be held in Kurayoshi City and I will join the related symposium. I’m looking forward to having a talk about the future promotion of exchange with the president of the Korea Walking Federation. In the next weekend, Shimane and Tottori Prefectures will jointly organize a cleanup activity, an event regularly held since (the registration of the Nakaumi Lake under) the Ramsar Convention. I hope many residents of both the prefectures will take part in it.

Q. What do you think the overall framework of transfer of tax revenues should be like, regarding the (pending issue of) national public works projects and the local projects subsidized by the state?

 I think it should be planned out step by step. We discussed this issue a great deal in the meetings of the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association and the governors' association of the Chugoku Region. At the present stage, it’s necessary to form a scrum (among local governments) in the whole nation and distinguish what we can disburse from what we can’t, while demanding that Tokyo disclose the breakdown (of the public works projects). This kind of arrangement should be made urgently.
 In effect, it will probably consist of the clarification of the range of financial burden. The next step will be the review of whether the financial burden (imposed on local governments) for national public works projects, such as maintenance (of roads, rivers and so on) is justifiable or not, I think.
 Concerning further fundamental reforms, the reasonable approach would be to continue discussions on the issues including the whole tax revenue management step by step.

Q. To what extent do you think local governments should share the financial burden (for the national public works projects)?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that, from a general point of view, some say it’s not necessary to disburse retirement allowance or maintenance expenses, nor is it necessary to incur child-care allowance or contribution to the mutual aid association of officials,) As one way of the distinction, in the local projects subsidized by the national government, the expenses for retirement allowance or contribution to the mutual aid association of officials are excluded from the items to be subsidized. According to the same standard, in the case of national public works projects, that kind of expense should be excluded from the items to be covered (by the share of financial burden imposed on local governments) as a matter of course. Other than that, in the case of the aforementioned national subsidization, the ratio of the clerical cost that can be used to the total expenditure is fixed. That kind (of restriction) is not applied to the current financial burden on local governments for national public works projects. These matters could be subjects for debate, I think.
 I expressed these sorts of opinions at the meetings of the governors’ association of the Chugoku Region and the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association, and we are all in agreement that we will make rules on our own initiative and form a scrum to go forward.
 The issue of the maintenance expenses should wait until we move forward one step further. It may go as far as to say that, “We won’t fundamentally pay any amount for the system.” Realistically speaking, I feel it’s difficult to take a unified action on the national scale at this point.

Q. Regarding the bricks made of uranium mullock, Okayama Prefecture’s governor said that Okayama will not accept the bricks into the prefecture. What are your thoughts on this matter?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the Okayama’s declaration could hamper the production of the said bricks and their shipment out of Tottori Prefecture to other areas in the future,) I think that the national government is responsible for this confusion. If the national government needs to negotiate with relevant autonomies, they need to do so completely. Frankly speaking, I have to wonder what Tokyo is doing now.

Q. In the last meeting of the Kinki Bloc Governors’ association, there was a discussion about whether the association will support a specific party in the next general election. What is your stance on this issue?

 A prefectural governor is in charge of the actual local administration and one and only post in each prefecture. One in such a position must render service beyond partisanship. In consideration of the responsibility toward the whole residents in each prefecture, a group of such people should be careful about deciding to support a specific political party. I think that the expression of such an attitude is an excessive approach.
 However, it will be permissible to evaluate each political party’s manifestos in terms of adequateness for local autonomy, and release the results of the evaluation. Then the prefectural residents can refer to the results in choosing what party to vote for. That’s about all the governors’ association can do, by virtue of its nature as a public institution.

Q. How do you reflect back on the two days when the Kinki Bloc Governors’ Association’ meeting took place, in consideration of the significance of the fact that it was held in Tottori Prefecture?

 I have a feeling that the governors who participated in the meeting seemed to be more elated than I had expected. I believe that it was a good opportunity to open everybody’s eyes to the Greater Kinki beyond the conventional framework of the Kinki Region. I showed them around Sakaiminato City and Tottori Sand Dune. I also believe that they understood the importance of building a “huge bridge” on the Sea of Japan side.
 As we could offer them chances to experience the pristine environment (of Tottori), we adopted an urgent appeal, or, “the Tottori Declaration,” so to speak. These results make me think that every party now realizes Tottori Prefecture’s potential to play a role in the Greater Kinki.
 The events of these two days were reported widely by the media in the Kansai Region. It served to promote sightseeing spots in Tottori Prefecture and to seek understanding from regional leaders (in the Kansai Region) about the present launching project of the ship service (by DBS Cruise Ferry), I think.

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